Robert G. McIlvaine

Robert G. McIlvaine
World Trade Center

Only One Dream Short

Growing up in Oreland, Pa., Robert G. McIlvaine had three dreams: to get a degree from Princeton, to experience life in New York City and to work at the heart of the financial universe.

"Bob achieved all three dreams," said Andre Parris, who was his college roommate for all four years before they graduated in 1997.

An assistant vice president for media relations at Merrill Lynch in the World Financial Center, Robert, 26, was representing his company in a banking conference on the 106th floor of 1 World Trade Center when the attack occurred.

"To him, New York was the center of everything, the place to be," said Mr. Parris, adding that Robert was about to make another dream come true: he and his fiancée, Jennifer Elizabeth Cobb, were making plans to marry.

"I've known Bob eight years," Mr. Parris said, "and I feel that he had finally come into his own as a person."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 19, 2001.

Robert G. McIlvaine, Merrill Lynch exec

As a Princeton student, Robert G. McIlvaine's studies focused on African-American literature. But as a young man starting a career in New York City, he decided to join the business world.

In July, Mr. McIlvaine went to work for Merrill Lynch & Co. as an assistant vice president of media relations. He specialized in investment banking and was in regular contact with members of the financial press covering Wall Street and global finance.

On Tuesday morning, he was attending a banking conference on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower.

Mr. McIlvaine, 26, who was known as Bob, lived on the Upper East Side. He was planning a 2002 wedding with his fiancée, Jennifer Elizabeth Cobb, who lives in Central Jersey and works for Campbell Soup Co. in Philadelphia. The couple planned to live in New Jersey.

One of the highlights of his time at Princeton was a seminar he took with the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, one of his favorite writers. Although he was white, he majored in English and African-American studies, and his library included cherished works by W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

Before going to Princeton, he was a national honors student who played high school soccer and baseball in the Philadelphia suburb of Oreland, Pa.

For Mr. McIlvaine, African- American writers offered a different perspective on life in his country. During his senior year in college, he received the Ruth J. Simmons Thesis Prize in African-American Studies.

"He understood that in order to be stellar academically," said his college roommate, Andre Parris of New York City, "that he needed first to get in touch with humanity."

After graduating college in 1997, his first jobs were as a publicist for books published by Vintage Books/Random House and Henry Holt & Co.

"He was obviously a superstar immediately," Parris said.

Mr. McIlvaine is survived by parents, Helen and Robert McIlvaine, and his brother, Jeff, all of Oreland, Pa.

Visitation will be Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Queen of Peace Church in Ardsley, Pa., followed by a funeral Mass at 8 p.m.

Contributions may be made to the Robert G. McIlvaine '97 Memorial Fund, c/o George F. Schmucki, Princeton University, P.O. Box 140, Princeton, N.J. 08544-0140. Checks should be made payable to Princeton University and mention the fund.

Profile by Rebecca Goldsmith published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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